Chopard’s gold standard

03 July 2023

Photo credit: Necklace from Chopard Green Carpet Collection in Fairmined-certified ethical 18-carat white gold and responsibly sourced Paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique.

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Swiss watch and jewellery maison Chopard wants to prove that luxury doesn’t need to cost the earth. Martin Staub, Private Banker, spoke to Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele about the evolution of their designs and materials, and the creation of the iconic Palme d’Or trophy. 

Martin Staub (MS): It’s a real pleasure to talk to you today. I’d like to start by asking about the use of ethical gold in your watches and jewellery. How did this journey start?

Caroline Scheufele (CS): I first became aware of the issues surrounding gold sourcing in 2012. Personally, I was shocked to learn that there are millions of men, women and children around the globe digging up gold from valleys and hills, often working in unsafe conditions and unable to get a fair price for their work1

From that point, my family and I were determined to change not only Chopard as a company and brand, but to contribute towards meaningful change within the wider industry. 

In 2013, we launched our in-house, multi-year programme, The Journey to Sustainable Luxury2. It committed us to responsible sourcing and helping those who are often overlooked in the supply chain. We started by forming a philanthropic relationship with the Alliance for Responsible Mining, which supports gold mining communities in achieving Fairmined certification3. This standard guarantees that gold is sourced from a responsible origin. We also offer these communities training, social welfare and environmental support. 

Following this, we created several watch and jewellery lines from responsibly sourced materials – the first being the High Jewellery Green Carpet Collection, which was unveiled during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival4.

We reached a special milestone in 2018, becoming the first watch and jewellery maison to commit to using 100% ethical gold for all our watch and jewellery pieces5. I am very proud to have instigated the idea that a different, more responsible way of doing business was possible within Chopard. While it hasn’t always been easy, it is certainly achievable.

MS: You have now continued this approach by switching to recycled steel in your pieces. Is this something you would like to see others in your industry adopt?

CS: Yes, for sure, and there is a long way to go. This announcement builds on our use of Lucent Steel™ in our products, which is made from 70% recycled steel6. The move also marked a key step in our multi-year project to make use of more responsible steel. As a result, and by the end of 2023, all Chopard steel watches, including bracelets and cases, should include 80% recycled steel. By 2025, this figure will hopefully rise to a minimum of 90%7

Chopard has underlined this commitment by joining the Climate Group’s Steel Zero initiative8, which works with the industry to speed up the shift towards net-zero steel. Our goal is to have an impact on a large scale. 

MS: Why do you think there is a perception that sustainable practices in jewellery making somehow compromise quality?

CS: People may sometimes associate sustainability – especially recycled products – with inferior quality. However, this is an inaccurate assumption, certainly in the case of the material we use.

We put four years of research and development into maintaining the quality of our products, and manufacturing recycled steel according to our extremely strict specifications. These specifications significantly increase manufacturing time, as well as wear-and-tear on machining tools. However, all the properties of Lucent Steel™ are maintained in our 80% and 90% recycled versions9

Gold is also a material that can be melted and remelted indefinitely without losing any of its characteristics. We invested in our own gold foundry a long time ago, which provided a clear advantage for the traceability of our gold.

MS: How important is being a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council for Chopard?

CS: Becoming a member of the council was one of the first steps on our journey to sustainable luxury. It underlined our commitment to engaging with the wider industry and helping to reinvent key points in the value chain. 

Having now been a certified member for more than 10 years10, it contributes to building trust and confidence among our stakeholders, and especially our customers.

Caroline Scheufele drawing the Palme d’Or.

Caroline Scheufele drawing the Palme d’Or

MS: It would be interesting to hear a little more about Chopard’s connection with the film industry. You redesigned the Palme d’Or in 1998. How does this reflect your commitment to sustainability?

CS: The Palme d’Or is one of the world’s most iconic trophies, and it was an honour to be asked to craft it. We’re particularly proud that it is now made from Fairmined-certified ethical gold11, and that we have the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of responsible sourcing at such a prestigious, globally celebrated event.

MS: This connection with the film industry has continued with your recent set of short films featuring Julia Roberts. Tell us more about this collaboration.

Julia has been the face of our Happy Sport and Happy Diamonds collections since 202112, and this new campaign builds on that momentum.

With Julia becoming our global ambassador, we wanted to celebrate this shared love of cinema with the launch of 12 video clips created by director James Gray.

And the collaboration goes beyond a campaign. This year Julia joined us for the Watches and Wonders Geneva Salon, which is the major business event for the watch industry. Here, we revealed Chopard’s commitment to rolling out recycled steel in the production of all our watches by the end of 2023, and to tackling our products’ carbon footprint13.

Chopard global ambassador, Julia Roberts, and film director, James Gray, behind the scenes of the “Chopard loves Cinema” campaign.

Chopard global ambassador, Julia Roberts, and film director, James Gray, behind the scenes of the “Chopard loves Cinema” campaign

MS: Your first Green Carpet Collection started your journey to sustainable luxury. What have been the highlights so far?

CS: There have been several milestones but the first that comes to mind is the acquisition of a rare and responsibly sourced 342-carat diamond14, which was the inspiration for our Garden of Kalahari collection. We have also used other responsibly sourced stones such as opals, emeralds and tourmalines as part of our Green Carpet Collection.

Since 2019, we have worked in partnership with Swiss Better Gold to source gold from the Barequeros. This community of Colombian artisanal gold-panners is one of the most environmentally conscious gold mining operations in the world15.

MS: And, one final question, if I may – what does the sustainable future look like for Chopard?

CS: The hot topics for sustainability in the luxury sector in the coming years are likely to be a focus on climate change and decarbonisation actions in our value chain, as well as biodiversity protection, traceability and transparency. These are all topics we are actively working on at Chopard. 


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